Many of New York’s Mentally Ill are Being Housed With Our Vulnerable Elderly in New York’s Assisted Living Facilities
For decades, New York City’s adult care homes for the mentally ill faced criticism. Shady ownership and a profit-first approach left the New York mentally ill long term care industry irreparably broken.
Many of New York’s care homes for the mentally ill are now re-branding as New York City assisted living facilities in order to be economically viable. As NYC nursing home abuse attorneys, this is troubling for a number of reasons discussed below.
New York’s Long Term Care Facilities for the Mentally Ill Have Historically Failed
Since its inception, New York’s mentally ill housing has failed. These failures have been consistent.
Scant government oversight coupled with greedy corporate owners equaled overcrowded, dangerous living conditions. Companies would pop up, siphon money out of the facility, then disappear. This failing system left New York’s mentally ill population in a lurch. We see this same vicious cycle in the nursing home industry.
Governor Andrew Cuomo called the state run mentally ill housing project a “fundamental government failure.” What was intended to be housing for the care and treatment of NYC’s mentally ill turned into drug houses and crime-ridden no go zones. The New York Times detailed the failed housing of New York’s mentally ill residents in a special section from the early 2000’s titled, Broken Homes.
A New Path to Profitability — The Assisted Living Re-Brand
Rather than shut down these dangerous, decrepit housing projects, New York is offering the industry a financial safety net; re-brand as assisted living facilities.
Since 1991, New York’s Assisted Living Program (ALP) has authorized every assisted living bed in the Empire State. Now, many of these failed adults homes for the mentally ill are being licensed as, and marketed for, assisted living facilities.
Adult homes warehoused mentally ill people for decades until a court order gave residents a chance to move. The embattled institutions were in danger of closing when the state threw them a financial life raft — the elderly. . . Some of those beds are occupied by people with mental illness, but now the adult homes can bill Medicaid for additional services at a higher rate. Documents indicate that each home could make nearly four times more money per resident. – ProPublica
Are We Selling Out Senior Safety in Order to Save the Mentally Ill Care Homes?
The state of New York is now granting many of these same failed buildings a license to run an assisted living facility. Many of these facilities will market to frail elderly residents, without disclosing that up to 50% of their census is filled with mentally ill residents.
Obviously, a New York City A.L.F. houses a far different population than the mentally ill. An assisted living facility cares for our elderly and vulnerable. A mentally ill adult home houses able bodied, mentally ill men and women of all ages. Most of these mentally ill patients have serious psychiatric diagnoses. While it is not their fault that they suffer from these psychiatric disturbances, many have violent episodes. This poses a life-threatening risk to a susceptible elderly person.
Mixing these two patient populations can have disastrous consequences.
Why Converting NYC’s Adult Homes into Assisted Living Facilities Concerns Us
A Likelihood of Care Failures and Negligence at the New York City ALF’s
We understand the motivation for changing adult homes into A.L.F.’s. With New York’s aging senior population, long term housing needs are rapidly increasing. The assisted living facility industry in particular is experiencing unprecedented growth. It makes sense that the New York City metro area needs more assisted living facility options.
However, these adult homes have a long, documented history of failing residents. It seems like a flawed idea to allow these failures to continue with our most frail population.
If these adult homes were failing before because of unsavory business practices and shoddy maintenance, are these the operators we want to grant assisted living facility licenses to?
Housing the Mentally Ill and the Elderly is a Recipe for Injury and Wrongful Death in an Assisted Living Environment
Do not get us wrong. No one deserve the neglectful treatment that has plagued NYC’s adult homes for decades. However, it is the vulnerable elderly that can least afford this kind of mistreatment.
What may result in slight injuries to a mentally ill person in their 40’s can be a death sentence to an 85 year old senior citizen. There is simply less margin for error when dealing with this patient population.
Resident on resident attacks, sexual assaults and emotional torment are all possible nightmare scenarios when housing the elderly with the mentally ill.
A New York Assisted Living Facility’s Legal Duty to Discharge an Inappropriate Resident
Many potential clients call us on assisted living negligence cases, asking about injuries to their loved one caused by another resident. Is the facility still liable if the harm was caused by another resident?
If the resident has a known history of violence or aggressive behavior, the answer is yes. For example, take a resident with a history of mental illness that has attacked others in the past. This person is likely inappropriate for an assisted living environment.
New York laws and regulations on this topic are clear. If the person is a threat to other residents, he or she must be discharged.
Consider the following New York ALF regulation:
Operators may not serve anyone requiring continual nursing or medical care; is chronically bedfast or chairfast and requires lifting equipment or two person assist for transfer; or is cognitively, physically or medically impaired to a degree which endangers the safety of the resident or other residents.
As assisted living negligence lawyers, we would argue that knowingly housing violent mentally ill adults with the elderly endangers the safety of those elderly residents.
The Inevitable Lawsuit Against an NYC Assisted Living for Housing a Violent, Mentally Ill Resident
If an ALF keeps someone in-house that previously resided in an adult home for the mentally ill, they run the risk of facing a lawsuit if he or she attacks another resident. These failed adult homes were places of routine violence. This is one of the major, documented failures in New York’s adult homes program. Some media outlets compared these adult homes to a prison-like environment of violence to establish hierarchy.
Now, these same residents will be co-habitating with confused, frail, elderly patients. Many of these vulnerable seniors have dementia and use walkers or wheelchairs. They literally cannot defend themselves.
What may have just been a fistfight among two 45 year olds in an adult home can turn into a fatal brain bleed in an elderly person.
New York Assisted Living Attack or Injury? Our Law Firm Can Help
We would vehemently disagree with NYC assisted living operators who commingle the mentally ill with the ordinary ALF crowd. As ALF injury lawyers, we believe the outcome will be many instances of assaults against a defenseless elderly population. This saddens us, as our seniors deserve to live out their twilight years in a peaceful, home-like setting.
If your loved one was attacked or injured inside a New York assisted living facility, contact the caring and compassionate attorneys at Brevda Law for a free case consultation.
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